Since we discovered the benefits of antioxidants, we see life in pink, provided we “eat-in color”! Overview of foods that are full of antioxidants.
Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants. However, it is difficult to say which one is the best, since their content fluctuates according to several factors, including the variety, the growing conditions and the timing of the harvest. Moreover, the various methods used to measure the antioxidant potential do not all give the same results. One thing is certain, we can partly trust our eyes since the brightly colored fruits and vegetables are generally full of antioxidants. For example, butternut squash, whose flesh is bright orange, contains more than zucchini, with pale flesh. Ditto for romaine lettuce or curly, superior to the crisp but pale iceberg lettuce.
Pigments and smells
Pigments that give color to plants are usually antioxidants. Strawberry red, broccoli green, sweet potato orange and blueberry blue all have different treasures. To have the widest possible range, eat psychedelic! They are also phytochemicals that give the plant its fragrance and flavor. The characteristic smell of onions and garlic, as well as the astringent taste of kale and green tea, are all beneficial. These compounds brighten our senses and contribute to our health when we eat them, but they exist primarily for the benefit of the plants themselves, as they constitute a defense system against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They also allow them to attract pollinating insects and repel predators.
Fruits and vegetables to be preferred
Hundreds of scientific studies combine the consumption of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day with a decrease in the incidence of chronic diseases. They are all good for you, but some provide more nutrients than others.
Here are a dozen fruits and a dozen vegetables that the researcher James Joseph and the doctor Daniel A. Nadeau cherish in their food program Eat in color:
- red: strawberry, raspberry, tomato, red pepper, cranberry, pomegranate, beetroot;
- yellow-orange: orange, mango, grapefruit, carrot, sweet potato, winter squash (pepper squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, etc.);
- green: kiwi, avocado, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach;
- blue-violet: blueberry (especially wild), blackberry, grape Concord, prune, purple cabbage, aubergine with the peel.
Most fruits and vegetables contain more antioxidants when eaten raw or lightly cooked, but there are exceptions. The tomato has to be cooked because the heat releases the lycopene trapped in its cell walls and in its fibers. Concentrated tomato products such as dough, sauce and even ketchup are all the richer in this powerful free radical scavenger.
Spices and herbs
A pinch over here, a spoonful by that: spices and herbs end up adding up for our greatest good. Turmeric is probably best known for its antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Curcumin, its main active ingredient, is better absorbed and used by our body when combined with black pepper. Turmeric is one of the spices that make up curry, so it is beneficial too. The spices typical of Indian cuisine are definitely in the spotlight since cumin is added to the number of “super spices”. The farnesol it contains could inhibit the growth of tumors and even cause their regression, making it a powerful anti-cancer. Have you ever tasted a good chickpea curry with Indian rice for dinner?
Among the herbs, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, mint, and basil were studied and all of them were discovered to have beneficial aromatic compounds. This suggests that all herbs and spices have some antioxidant and anti-cancer potential. Use them abundantly … for your health and pleasure.
The Properties of Tea and Coffee
Green tea is nutritionally more interesting than black. Indeed, the fermentation of tea leaves causes the oxidation of catechins, which greatly affects their antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Here are three simple tips for making the most of tea:
- Preferably choose Japanese green tea because it contains many more phytochemicals than the Chinese one.
- Let the tea brew longer, 8 to 10 minutes, which allows to extract 5 times more catechins than a 5 minute infusion.
- Avoid adding milk. According to some studies, milk proteins would bind to polyphenols, the family of antioxidants to which catechins belong, thus preventing their assimilation … and therefore their benefits. This hypothesis is controversial, however, since a recent article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluded that milk does not alter the antioxidant activity of black tea.
Cup for cup, green tea offers more antioxidants than coffee. That said, when you drink a lot of coffee, its intake of polyphenols – mainly chlorogenic acids – is far from negligible. But it is recommended to limit yourself to four cups of filter coffee per day because of caffeine. Thin line between virtue and vice!
Antioxidants and dark chocolate
What a joy to know that chocolate is good for your health! However, only dark chocolate is beneficial. And the higher the percentage of cocoa, the better. How many of you have discovered chocolate with 70% cocoa in recent years? If it is rich in antioxidants – polyphenols, too – it is still concentrated in fat and calories. Better then be reasonable and be satisfied with about 30 g (1square) per day.
Red wine and beer
It is also nice to know that wine – especially red wine – and beer also contain antioxidant compounds and that they contribute, in moderate amounts, to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. We insist on the “moderate”, since, in excess, alcohol is responsible for nearly 2,000 deaths per year in Quebec, 45% by road accidents. It also increases the risk of suffering from several types of cancer, liver disease, cardiac arrhythmia and hypertension. It is therefore recommended to limit daily consumption to one or two glasses per day.
Food definitely helps to keep us healthy. That said, it does not provide any guarantee. Several factors – genetic, environmental, lifestyle – can make everything rock. But as food remains a factor over which we have greater control, we would be crazy not to put all the chances on his side!